Reproduction Roman 18th Century 'Salvator Rosa' frame, carved beading, water gilded
This work is representative of Lee’s natural facility at capturing landscape, both in terms of composition and in the description of rapid cloud movement and effects of light and shade. His ability to present changing cloudscapes may have been responsible for the partiality of his first patron, William Wells, who considered that Lee’s work was superior to that of Constable. Kenneth Westwood notes that, ‘When viewing some of Constable’s sketches, [Wells's] only comment was that they “might be of service to Lee”.’ Westwood also records Ruskin’s remark, that Lee ‘painted with constant reference to nature’. This may have been designed to silence contemporary criticism of his lack of finish and use of naturalistic colouring: because of the discolouration of Old Master landscapes, the ideal landscape of the late 18th-early 19th century was the tint, as Sir George Beaumont put it, ‘of an old Cremona violin’, and Lee was attacked – astonishingly – for making his landscapes too green. He travelled throughout Britain; this particular painting may represent a Scottish river scene.